Why is There a Picnic in My Parking Spot?

Park(ing) in Park Slope, Brooklyn, May 6, 2006. The sign says, "Public space reclamation in progress."

Today is International Park(ing) Day, the day when urban dwellers all around the world reclaim on-street parking spaces for purposes more creative and life-affirming than private motor vehicle storage. If you found a bunch of kids playing in an available local parking spot on a grassy, sod carpet, that’s why.

Addendum: Transportation Alternatives organized New York City’s first Park(ing) event in October 2005. And while Oklahoma City residents staged a similar event in 1935 to protest the introduction of the first parking meters, the generally acknowledged first modern Park(ing) squat took place in Oxford, England in 2003 when a family installed a complete living room in the middle of a residential street and watched Wimbledon on the telly. That particular event ended after an angry local motorist ran his car into their sideboard.

This year, Park(ing) Day started off as a one-off art project in San Francisco just two years ago and has emerged as a widespread grassroots movement to take back city streets from the automobile. There will 50 Park(ing) events in San Francisco, 28 in New York City and scores more in cities all around the world. Streetsblog is looking for photos of Park(ing) events around the city. Please send them to tips@streetsblog.org.

Here’s where Park(ing) events are planned in the five boroughs:

The Bronx

  • High Bridge Area
  • Southern Blvd. & E. 163rd St.


  • Seventh Av. & 1st St.
  • Bedford Av. bet. N. 4th & 7th Sts.
  • Carlton & DeKalb Aves.
  • Cortelyou Rd.
  • Myrtle Av. bet. Washington & Waverly Aves.


  • Columbus Av. bet. 83rd & 84th Sts.
  • Rockefeller Plaza
  • Times Square
  • Lincoln Center
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Astor Place
  • 1st St. & First Av.
  • Penn Station
  • Stuyvesant
  • 9th St. & Third Av.
  • Houston St. bet. Second & Third Aves.
  • Broadway bet. 113th & 114th Sts.
  • Midtown TBA
  • 563 Columbus Av. (at 87th St.)
  • Seventh Av. bet. 24th & 26th Sts.
  • Seventh Av. & Charles St.


  • Western Jackson Heights
  • TBA in Astoria

Staten Island

  • Everything Goes Book Cafe in Tompkinsville
  • 3 Central Av. near Library
  • truedat

    Where’s your NYC pride? T.A. Did this in Brooklyn before the san friscans

  • yeah, what he said
  • Herman

    i can understand the purpose of such an event, but i can’t help but think of the extra environmental effects that this will cause when drivers are forced to drive around longer to find a parking space that’s not occupied by these folks.

  • OK, OK. I’ve created an addendum. For the record, the world’s first known parking squat seems to have taken place in 1935 in Oklahoma City.

  • @alex

    Herman – by your logic, we should never eliminate any parking spaces ever (even temporarily) and should in fact create more car parking to keep them from cruising around looking for parking.

    I think you can see that this makes no sense; it would just encourage more car traffic.

    Ideally, Park(ing) Day should get enough overwrought press that people will decide not to drive in(to) the city at all, for fear that all the parking spaces will be occupied by a bunch of crazy eco-hippies.

  • Willie Makit

    great photo. That little monkey with the hula hoop is cute yet bears a striking resemblance to Aaron Naparstek.

  • I agree. That kid is cute. But what kind of lousy parents would let their child play in the gutter like that?

  • hmm

    But aren’t you violating the rule of the parking spot by vacating the spot when the meter expires?

  • Dan Icolari

    I heard from a participant at the International Parking Day event in front of the library in St. George (Staten Island) that the response of passersby was curiosity, mostly, without any expressions of hostility.
    From what I heard, it seems to have been a success.

  • steve

    We had great fun visiting the various sites in Manhattan. I think the event was a great success for several reasons:

    1. Raised awareness and critical understanding of car dominance through explicit education, in a format that was accessible to everyone.

    2. Weakened the taboos against non-motorists being in the street that serve to protect the car dominance.

    3. Brought the activist community together.

    Thanks to all the organizers, and especially Austin at the Time’s Up site who fixed my bike wheel after a car parked adjacent to the park(ing) site ran over it!

  • mork

    Yes. The parents must be the worse kinds of public-space-advocate fiends.

    Especially now that the parking-loving minority keeps succeeding in reducing the number of street cleaning days.

  • ruby

    Did you all get permits? Our one unpermitted Chicago site got shut down quickly, twice, by hostile men from the Streets and Sanitation department who told us we were violating a code they wouldn’t let me see and that I can’t find now. Next year we’ll plan ahead more and have tons of spaces!

  • Sal

    What a stupid idea by a bunch of ex hippie tree huggers. I hope they choke on the gas fumes they’re forcing the cars to expel. These people should really get a life, I swear.


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